Friday, 28 March 2014


The bedrock erodes -

A troubled writer's responsibility. A writer's troubling responsibility.

Or simply a troubled person – me!

Many questions are tumbling around in my troubled mind at the moment.

I chose to write in the context of a particular place and about a particular time in history.

What was I trying to do? Why write about that historical context.

My current business card quotes Camile Paglia -

“Emotion is chaos. Art is order.”

I write, draw and tell stories to find meaning and order but only of a sort – it is always conditional and compromised. There are no laws to be laid down – the bedrock crumbles -

Writers write because they are writers – to tell a story - to communicate and to share. The story starts us on a journey – or a quest with an end. No matter how inconclusive the ending of the book may be - the book – or the story comes to a stop.

My story is about the people who are left out of history and are not considered important. They are not fashionable and did not do or shape anything that was world-changing. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of them are white. In the context of the time that may make them doubly wrong – or does it? It is what happened at that time and in that place. To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet.

“The time is out of joint. O curs├Ęd spite,

That ever I was born to set it right!”

But the time remains always out of joint and everyone always has to work to set it right.

It is hubris to imagine that anything I wrote might have an effect on a current event. I suppose that very successful writers may be able to create trends but I doubt that is the reason why they write.

It is even more ridiculous to feel responsible for compromising events and places by writing about them when they were already compromised.

It is ridiculous to feel that the danger to Kariba Dam now openly acknowledged, is made worse by the unplanned coincidence of the publication of my book. This is superstition and fantasy but writers do feel responsible and are made responsible and are punished for what they write. Messengers are shot. Harbingers of ill-luck are unlucky. Swallows are responsible for spring and one magpie is responsible for sorrow.

The characters in my novel discuss the dam and its potential for disaster. As their creator I feel appalled at the latest news about Kariba Dam even though the latest news is in fact old news and has been known for a long time.

I trust that solutions will be found and the catastrophe averted. The builders knew that they could not claim that the dam would last forever.